Stephen Rankin has seen a lot - and drank a lot.

Or better: tasted.

Because that's part of his job as director of Gordon & MacPhail, arguably the best-known independent whiskey bottler in Scotland.

Rankin is the fourth generation to represent the Urquhart family, who have been purchasing distillates from distilleries for 125 years, maturing them in barrels in their own warehouses, bottling them and finally bringing them onto the market under their own labels.

Many notable and some famous whiskeys were among them, from the "Discovery Range" to the "Connoisseurs Choice" line to decades-old rarities and whiskeys from distilleries that have long since disappeared.

Peter Badenhop

Editor in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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Stephen Rankin has tasted almost all of these great whiskeys; he has studied the "liquid library" of Gordon & MacPhail extensively.

But even for him, the "Generations 80 yo" is something very special.

Because this Scotch is the oldest single malt ever bottled in the world.

On February 3, 1940, it was distilled in the Glenlivet Distillery and poured into a large barrel that used to be used to store sherry.

Rankin's great-grandfather, John Urquhart, and his son, George, acquired this barrel and matured it in their warehouse.

It was not until the generation of grandchildren and great-grandchildren finally bottled it, after almost exactly 80 years.

Eight decades of whiskey history have their price

Stephen Rankin was in awe of this unique whiskey story when he presented the “Generations 80 yo” a few weeks ago in Frankfurt. And it also recorded the more than two dozen specialist dealers, experts and journalists who had come to hear the stories from Rankin: that of the barrel with the number 340, which had been made from American oak around 1850 and initially for transport for must and wine, then for the storage of Oloroso sherry and finally for the whiskey from Glenlivet. The story of the filling of the mahogany-colored contents into 250 glass decanters. And that of the collaboration with the architect and designer David Adjaye, who designed the decanter and the corresponding oak casing.

Finally, they were also tasted in awe. A single malt that is so old and matured in a barrel that is much older: How does it look, how does it smell, how does it taste? Well, that's not that easy to say, because with every sniff and with every drop, the red-brown shimmering elixir seems to reveal new nuances. On the nose there are initially the scents of orange and almond and a few fleeting floral notes, then spices and a little smoke, finally dried fruit and sweet pastries, all united in an astonishingly fruity complexity. Only in the mouth does a multi-layered spice with a slight hint of pepper come through, then there are notes of ginger, plum, fig and raisins, and finally a little smoke and a slight saltiness.Rankin's guests could have sipped their glasses filled with just a few milliliters for hours and discovered new dimensions. But the real pleasure is reserved for other single malt lovers. Those who have enough purchasing power to spend around 100,000 euros on one of the 0.7-liter decanters of the “Generation 80 yo”. Eight decades of whiskey history have their price.